What do you think of when you hear the word home?
Some people think of a house or apartment, the place they live, maybe with family or friends, maybe alone. Home to me is the place I live with my family and my pets and many good things: hot and cold running water, fridge and pantry full of food, appliances that do most of the work, space to be with people and space to be alone. Home is very good to me. If someone asked you to describe “home”, what would you say?
“Home” might mean different things to other people. To a college student or a deployed soldier or resident of an assisted living facility or a prison, what they think of as home might be somewhere other than place they live. To someone living on the streets or in a refugee camp, what is home? And to others – a battered spouse, the child of addicts – home might be where they live, but it doesn’t seem good to them, like it does for me.
In the same way, different people can have vastly different connotations of God. He’s the “man upstairs” making the rules. Or maybe God is nature, or perhaps there are many gods, or no god at all. If you asked ten people what their view of God is, you would likely get ten different answers. And if someone asked you to describe God, what would you say?
Many people rarely think of God, because to them he is distant and inconsequential. Some people deny God exists. To a lot of people, God is the one who will punish you if you break the rules and reward you if you follow them. Some people think God hates them, or is angry at them, or is out to spoil their fun. Quite a few people think of God as a giant puppet master pulling everyone’s strings to tell the story he wants to tell. Most of the people I know believe that God is basically good but that he sends things like sickness and injustice into our lives for some higher purpose. But where do people get their information about who God is and what he’s like? Why so many versions? Can we know for sure what’s true and what’s not?
We can’t know absolutely everything about God while we walk this earth. Our puny human brains can’t get around everything he is and does. But we can know enough. A baby doesn’t understand everything about his mother, what she was like before he came along, how she does what she does. But the baby can know that his mother loves him and is taking care of him. That’s all a baby needs to know at that stage in life.
All we need to know about God is that he loves us and is taking care of us. We can learn a whole lot more by reading the word, because God has described himself in the Bible. If we approach Scripture with an open heart, setting aside the pictures of God that we got from the movies or even from church, truly seeking to know him, he will show us who he is and what he wants for us. To me, God isn’t distant or scary at all. He’s absolutely the best thing ever. It makes me sad that people don’t know that God is good, and that he loves them no matter what, that his plans for them are all good, all the time. I struggle with coming up against others’ versions of God. When I think of home, it is good. And when I think of God, it is very, very good.
Not everyone has access to a good home. But every single person on this planet has access to a very good God, and an eternal home where every need is met and there is nothing but peace and joy and love.